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McCarthy: Packers struggled to adapt without Jordy

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Jordy Nelson's absence played a huge role in the Green Bay Packers' offensive struggles this season. It was evident from the team's bye week onward, when defenses played press coverage and stacked the box, knowing the slow-footed receiving corps couldn't gain separation.

The Packers didn't make excuses during the season. Nelson wasn't returning, so why lament his absence?

Now that their campaign is over, coach Mike McCarthy was willing to admit how big a loss Nelson was to the entire offense.

Every game, all season

First he noted Nelson's ability to go over the middle of the field.

"Philosophically to me, to have a successful passing game, you have to have big targets that can turn through the middle of the field, whether it's a tight end, whether it's a big receiver," McCarthy said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "You look at the production of Jordy when he went inside, you look at the production when he was inside, now you're dictating to the defense what coverage they can play to you. When you don't have that element or the element to complement that, you see what we saw this year."

Not only is Nelson the NFL's premier sideline target, his speed on the outside opens up the offense for other pass-catchers and running backs.

"If you really don't feel the threat down the field or a big-time threat on both sides, you're going to see three-deep, three-shell coverage and tight man-to-man," McCarthy said. "We're going to add that extra player to the box, to that run area, very quickly. Just look at the first play of the Arizona game. We're in a three-wide receiver set and they're in an eight-man front, which would be a nine-man front. ... That's the biggest commitment you can make to the run defensively. That's what we saw a large part of the season."

This is the part where we point out that speedster Jeff Janis, the Hail Mary hero on Saturday night, wasn't given a chance this season because, as McCarthy admitted, he struggled picking up the offense. Rodgers clearly didn't trust Janis before injuries forced the young receiver into the lineup in the playoffs.

As for 2016, the Packers should get Nelson back completely healthy. If the young receivers grew from 2015, the corps could be even stronger than before the injury that sent this season off the rails.

"I think Jordy will come back better than ever," McCarthy said. "He's one of the players I've had a chance to sit down and talk to, and just like you knew he would he's so far ahead with the rehab, he looks great. There's no reason to think he won't be good as new."

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